Pierce, Rivers: Lakers' Buss will be missed

996587.jpg

Pierce, Rivers: Lakers' Buss will be missed

DENVER The Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers are always going to be fierce rivals.

But those intense emotions are now replaced by the pain that death can bring to those it leaves behind.

Dr. Jerry Buss, majority owner of the Lakers who was vital in reviving them into an NBA power, died on Monday morning.

He was 80 years old.

The Boston Celtics are no different than the rest of the NBA community in mourning the news of his passing.

Paul Pierce, who grew up in nearby Ingelwood, Calif., has fond memories of Buss.

"He's part of the NBA, what this NBA is all about," Pierce said. "Just bringing the Lakers franchise to where it is today. He's pretty much an icon as an owner. Everybody knows who he was. My heart goes out to his family."

Pierce said he had met Buss a few times.

"He'd see me. It didn't matter if I played for the Celtics," Pierce said. "He always had kind words for me, asked me how I was doing. He's just one of those joyful owners."

Buss bought the team in 1979, and soon transformed them into one of the more exciting, successful franchises in the league.

Since the Lakers have been under Buss, the team has won 10 championships.

"He had a great impact on the league and most importantly, on the Lakers," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "When he bought the team, they changed quickly. He bought into the 'Showtime' stuff."

But what Lakers Nation clings to more than anything, is the 10 titles won under his watch which is greater than any team since 1979.

"That's ... you don't have to say much more than that," Rivers said. "He'll be missed."

One of the first challenges for the Lakers is trying to figure out the pecking order in terms of decision-making responsibilities.

Jerry's son Jim, is vice president of player development while Jerry's daughter Jeannie, is executive vice president of business operations. And that doesn't factor in Mitch Kupchak who is the team's general manager.

"His leadership was huge, with Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak," Rivers said of Jerry Buss. "Now with him gone, that leaves a void for them."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”